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Upton roundtable focuses on future of health care

Published 8:09am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Speaking to a group of approximately 15 people Tuesday at the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce, Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said approximately 225,000 Michiganders will lose their current health care plan because of the Affordable Care Act.

Another 80 million Americans, he said, would likely lose their employer-based health care because of the president’s health care bill.

“That’s really a disaster. It’s tragic. It really is,” said Upton in his opening remarks during Tuesday’s round-table discussion.

Upton said he’s received letters from and spoken to hundreds of people who are worried they will have to pay more for healthcare because of the bill.

“People are scared,” he said.

When asked about his health care plan, Upton said he too would be losing his Blue Cross plan as he has to join what is called the “DC exchange” plan.

“I don’t know what benefit levels will be and I don’t know what the premiums will be,” he said. “I will be on the website next week trying to work it out.”

Earlier this month, the House passed Upton’s bipartisan Keep Your Health Plan Act by a vote of 261 to 157. Upton’s bill would allow health care plans currently available on the individual market to continue to be offered next year.

In speaking to people at local hospitals, Upton said there is concern about what will happen once people show up to the facilities needing care under the new health care plans.

“If it crashes then we are in real trouble because those providers don’t get paid,” he said.

When asked if a vote to repeal Obamacare would come soon, Upton said no vote is scheduled, but the issue would stay on peoples’ minds for the foreseeable future.

Upton was also asked what the political atmosphere is like in Washington.

The congressman said he’s never seen things worse and thinks it won’t get better because the Senate voted to weaken the power of the filibuster last week.

“You are going to have some on the Republican side go more to the right and some on the Democratic side go more to the left. That middle ground… trying to come to an agreement is going to be harder because they are going to be starting from more distant polar opposites,” he said. “I know this is really not a good thing.”

When asked if anything positive is happening, Upton said his bill prompted the president to admit there are problems with the Affordable Care Act. He also said he expects to see a bi-partisan farm bill resolved soon and he doesn’t expect another government shutdown.

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